Return-It to Reuse-It and Recycle-It

Reusable and Single-Use Cup Recycling Pilot

Whether they contain coffee, tea or other drinks, approximately 80 million single-use cups end up in the trash in Vancouver each year.

A new pilot project by Return-It, in partnership with Tim Hortons, Starbucks, A&W Canada, McDonald’s Canada, City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver and Merlin Plastics, aims to keep more cups out of landfills by giving consumers a convenient place to recycle them in commercial and on-street locations. In addition to single-use cups for hot and cold beverages, the program also introduces a reusable cup program, with consumers signing up to use reusable cups that will be washed and returned to retail locations.


reusable cup bin

About the pilot

The collection bins, which are made from recycled plastics, provide an accessible opportunity to quickly redistribute reusables and recycle single-use cups. For single-use cups, consumers will empty out any liquids in one slot, and place the cups and lids in separate slots.

For reusable cups, consumers will scan a QR code on the cup then place it in a slot marked for reusables. Each participating brand will offer consumers a method for signing up for their reusable cup program. Cups that are washed and repacked by Return-It will be returned to each brand and put back into circulation.

Managed by Return-It, the 6-month pilot program seeks to evaluate and determine the viability of a broader, permanent program in the City of Vancouver and other locations. Return-It will collect and process single-use cups and test additional recycling opportunities for the component materials. For reusable cups, Return-It will wash, sanitize and return the cups to each participating brand for redistribution to customers. Once the pilot wraps up, results will be analyzed to evaluate a scalable solution for a cups program that is convenient for customers.

More Bin Locations Coming Soon!